Oct. 23, 2013 — The East Carter volleyball team went through senior night this past Tuesday, honoring their top veteran, McKenzie Rainbolt, just before the start of their match with Rowan County.
The Valkyries however, spoiled the festivities defeating the Lady Raiders 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20) in Grayson.
Coach Steve Walters said East Carter threw his team off-balance throughout the match but was pleased to earn their 20th win of the season.
“It was a mixed bag,” Walters said. “East Carter really runs a system and they run it well. They’re the first team that we’ve played that maintained a consistent system and it shocked us. East is very solid and it took a while for our hitters to adjust.”
Every set the Valkyries and Lady Raiders played were back and forth and it showed in the second set as East held off Rowan as they tried to rally. Walters’ group stuck with the game plan in the third and fourth sets to earn the victory.
“We had to play together for this win,” Walters said. “We didn’t communicate as effectively as we could have and it allowed them to stay in the game. They’re intelligent. They know what they’re doing with their shots. They have direction and they force you to play for every single point.”
East coach Cathy Harris cannot be more proud of her team despite the loss.
“We were ready to play,” Harris said. “We changed our lineup and playing with a libero and we just have some things we need to work on before the Regional Tournament.”
Harris added: “Rowan is one of the top teams in the region and it shows and we stayed with them. I was proud of my girls in the third set after getting down and we’re still young but we’re playing well.”
Walters wants to see his team pass better, a concern that he’s had and was a problem again against East Carter.
“We had a difficult time to pass the ball in the two and three zone to get good sets for our hitters on the net,” Walters said. “We were constantly hitting off the net all night. If they had thrown a few more blockers up there it’s a different story.”
But Walters credited East for making his girls work hard together. He said the match like this match had regional tournament feel to it.
“More likely than not, East is going to win their district and be in the regional tournament as well,” Walters said. “As you get down to this time of year, these games become more important and you play in better atmospheres. All of these matches count.”
Harris admitted her team wanted to send Rainbolt out a winner but with the 62nd District Championship and next week’s regional tournament looming, they still have that opportunity.
“McKenzie has meant so much to the program she has developed, especially her senior year,” Harris said. “She made a lot of sacrifices to be a part of this team and it was appreciated by all of us.”
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.